A ‘pathologically jealous’ carpenter who cut the brakes of a car used by his former partner and threatened to kill her unborn child has walked free from court.
Chris Gunn, 26, subjected Rachel Hodgeson to a ten-month campaign of stalking and harassment after she plucked up the courage to break up with him.
The terrifying ordeal included threats to kill her, her new partner and their unborn child and culminated in cutting the brake line of her mother’s car that she was using where they lived in Rye.
Gunn, who was living in Eastbourne when he cut the brake line, now lives in Ocean Way, Port Talbot in Wales. He pleaded guilty to a charge of damaging property being reckless as to whether life is endangered in November last year.
That charge can carry a sentence of up to life imprisonment.
He also admitted a charge of putting a person in fear of violence by harassment at the same hearing.
Gunn appeared at Hove Crown Court for sentencing this afternoon.
Prosecutor John McNally said Gunn and Ms Hodgeson were together for several years, during which Gunn became ‘aggressive and controlling’.
He continued: “Chris was controlling of who she could speak to. She had to delete messages lest he find them.
“She had tried to leave him unsuccessfully a number of times. She stayed partly because she feared what he might do if she left.”
Ms Hodgeson left Gunn towards the end of 2017. They have one child together.
The prosecutor continued: “After then his behaviour became a million times worse.”
The court heard that when she met a new partner and became pregnant Gunn did not take the news well.
“He said he would cut the baby out of her.
“He said he would have the last laugh.”
Suffering from depression, Gunn drove from his home in Eastbourne to Rye on October 1.
The prosecutor said: “Rachel had told him that she and her partner would be using her mother’s car that week.”
Gunn got to Rye and cut the brake cable ‘clean through’ at 8am, putting his ex-partner, his daughter and other road users in peril.
Though he made some attempts to contact Ms Hodgeson later that day to tell her about the danger, he could not reach her and did not try again, the court heard.
It was not until the following day that Gunn called the police and explained what he had done.
Ms Hodgeson’s mother Barbara Graham had actually got into the car during the 24 hour period when the brake line was cut, but fortunately a warning light came on and the car would not start, the court heard.
Defence counsel Hannah Hurley said: “It seems that although it began to dawn on him the great stupidity of what he had done, the dangerousness of what he had done to that car really did not hit him before this began to unravel.
“It is fortunate that the warning light did come on and something more serious did not happen.”
Miss Hurley said Gunn was hardworking and has shown a lot of remorse and willingness to change.
She said his depression and the steroids he had been taking at the time had had a substantial effect on his offending.
Sentencing Gunn, Recorder Paul Bowen QC remarked that the charge of damaging property being reckless as to whether life is endangered can carry a sentence of up to life in prison.
He described Gunn as ‘pathologically jealous’ and said he carried out a ‘campaign of stalking and harassment’.
However, turning to the brake cable cutting, he said: “You did not intend for them to be seriously injured or killed, you were reckless as to whether that would happen.”
For this reason, and taking into account Gunn’s personal circumstances and guilty plea, Mr Bowen said he would reduce Gunn’s sentence to two years imprisonment. He then ordered that the sentence be suspended.
Gunn will pay compensation to Ms Hodgeson and her mother, as well as prosecution costs.